Soprano Patricia Racette and tenor Stefano Secco are internationally renowned singers, beloved for their signature roles of Butterfly and Pinkerton in Puccini's classic Madama Butterfly, which runs from January 11-26 at Lyric Opera. However, what you might not know is that both of them share passion for music beyond opera—namely in the worlds of cabaret and jazz.

Patricia Racette and Stefano SeccoWe all know soprano Patricia Racette and tenor Stefano Secco as internationally renowned singers, beloved for their signature roles of Butterfly and Pinkerton in Puccini's classic Madama Butterfly, which runs from January 11-26 at Lyric Opera.

However, what you might not know is that both of them share passion for music beyond opera—namely in the worlds of cabaret and jazz.

Patricia Racette is one of the world's most in-demand sopranos—singing Butterfly, Tosca, Violetta, Mimi, Musetta, Marguerite, and more in houses around the world. Before she began her operatic career, however, she fully intended to study vocal jazz at the University of North Texas, but was told her voice was better suited for opera. Though she fell in love with opera and has a thriving career, she has always held on to her first love. She gives regular cabaret performances and released a cabaret album, Diva on Detour, in January 2013. The album was recorded with pianist Craig Terry, Racette's frequent recital partner and music director of Lyric's own Ryan Opera Center.  

With standards like "Get Happy," "The Man that Got Away," "I Got Rhythm," and "La Vie en rose," the album showcases Racette's sultry and seductive lower register. Critics have raved about the album and her live cabaret shows, with Theater Mania's Brian Scott Lipton calling it nothing short of "a demonstration of artistic brilliance."

Chicago audiences got to experience Racette’s love of torch songs firsthand last June, when she performed at Ravinia with Craig Terry. Here's Racette talking about this passion project with snippets of her singing from the album.

 

Italian tenor Stefano Secco, making his Lyric debut as the notorious cad Pinkerton, came to love music through jazz-particularly the recordings of John Coltrane, Max Roach, and Gene Krupa.  He played in a rock band in high school and earned a diploma in percussion. Even after turning his attention to opera (which he fell in love with after hearing "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto at a party!), he still maintains his percussion prowess. Here he is in action at the Blue Note in Milan, from a performance with harpist and frequent collaborator Cecilia Chailly.

 

Pictured above: Patricia Racette and Stefano Secco. (Racette photo courtesy the artist. Secco photo courtesy IMG Artists)